Last month fleet sales totalled 42,584 in a new car market up 7.3% to 79,151, with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders saying that the continued resurgence in sales to private buyers was the main reason for the year-on-year increase. The introduction of the twice-a-year plate change has resulted in the February market halving in size from 1998 levels and Maurice Howkins, Vauxhall's fleet sales director, said: 'There is a growing awareness among fleets that the new car market now has three peaks in a year - January, March and September. But I think the market is still getting used to and reacting to the plate changes.'
A sign of the continued reaction to the plate change comes with vehicle manufacturers predicting that this month's fleet sales will top 160,000 units - more than the 151,478 units in March 1999 but less than the 167,125 registrations of last year. Total new car registrations are expected to be around 400,000 units this month.
Following a slow start to the year - fleet sales in the first two months of this year are down 8.4% year-on-year at 125,566 units - a buoyant March should set the fleet sector back on track towards the now traditional one million registrations a year mark. In the fleet sector, Ford led the way with sales totalling 12,285 - 36% up on February last year as registrations of new Mondeo took off and Focus sales continued to rise.
Top 10 fleet manufacturers in February were: Ford 12,285, Vauxhall 7,700, Peugeot 4,110, Renault 3,280, Volkswagen 2,690, Nissan 2,474, Citroen 1,980, Mercedes-Benz 1,141, Toyota 1,019, Fiat 990. Top 10 fleet models in February were: Ford Focus 5,588, Ford Mondeo 3,472, Vauxhall Astra 3,414, Ford Fiesta 1,806, Renault Megane 1,695, Vauxhall Vectra 1,495, Citroen Xsara 1,485, Peugeot 406 1,357, Peugeot 206 1,345, Renault Clio 1,259.